Monday, August 14, 2017

The 6th Anniversary of His Death has Come and Gone

6 monthsNobody probably realized it but me, but Joel has now been in Heaven 6 months and 3 days. I deliberately haven’t always blogged on the “monthly annivesary” like I did when Chris died. They were different men. We had a different marriage. Their deaths were different. And…I’m in a different place with four LITTLE responsiblities other than one adolescent daughter to care for. The day never passes without my knowing it, but sometimes I just have no words to share. It still hurts too terribly bad.

In less than a couple hours, I’ll head to the school for my first pre-nursing class – Anatomy and Physiology. I can hear the groans already. But, believe it or not, I’m excited about it! I love that kind of stuff. However, I’m emotionally very fragile, and I’m praying that turns around quickly. I’m excited about this day, and yet, I’m leaving about four loads of laundry to do, bills to pay, a house to clean, and a million other even more important things than that. I’m praying God settles my nerves and plants me in the exact class I’m supposed to be in (especially since I had to have some strings pulled to get me into this class since it filled on the first day registration opened for students, and I wasn’t able to register until day two). God has provided so much already. I see His hand in this in ways I can’t even come up with words to convey. But, I’m excited…just nervous.

On top of that, Benjamin and Josiah start recreational soccer tonight. I feel like everything has been on hold since February. Josiah missed all of spring soccer, and he played last year, and loved it! Daddy wasn’t his official coach, but coached him continuously anyway. He loved that time with Joel. I told Benjamin he could start this year, and Austyn will probably start next year. We’re working on getting Katerina into a therapeutic horse program. Life…doesn’t stop!

I’m trying to move forward and let life feel as normal as possible, but that doesn’t mean I’m not simply stuck sometimes. I personally feel stuck right now. I’m trying to find a GriefShare class to attend, but nothing has lined up with location or schedule yet, but I feel I need it desperately. It truly was the impetus to complete healing during my previous grief journey.

I need to go for now, but I just wanted to remind you of a couple things;

  1. My book, Rescued and Restored is still available on Amazon! If you or anyone you know could benefit from reading it, I would be so grateful!
  2. I love the ornaments that have been arriving for Joel’s tree! What a blessing! For more information, click HERE!

#HeIsStillGood

Friday, June 2, 2017

My Chest is Wet with Tears

Lewis quote on painMy chest is wet with tears. When did they start? All it takes is a word I read, or a kind message of encouragement from a friend or stranger. Sometimes…it takes nothing at all. It’s grief. I had the privilege of loving deeply (more than once), so losing the object of that love makes it all the more evident.

Life has been a rollercoaster ride on Grief Road this week. The most amazing news of the week: my foot wound is finally closed!!! I have been released to return to work next Tuesday, and I can now shower without a trash bag taped around my foot and ankle. I’ve been doing this for nearly three months, so this is HUGE friends! Happy me!!!

However, one day prior to receiving my awesome foot news, I received a different type of news. Still medical, but different area of the body, different doctor…different issue. This time…it’s more serious (correctable, but serious), and I’ll share more as I’m able. Just. One. More. Thing. I keep asking God, “How much more?” I’m even more gun-shy now after having gone through a “correctable” procedure with Joel that turned out far differently than any of us could have imagined. I’m trying not to go there in my thinking, but it’s hard not to sometimes. And yet…God. Is. In. Control.

While I don’t know the reasons behind this horrific 2017, I know He’s Sovereign, and none of this has come as a surprise to Him and even passed through His hands first. I’m NOT saying God caused it. I AM saying He allowed it. For what purpose? I’m not sure. Will I ever know? I’m not sure about that either. But, I know God’s plans are always better. Always. It certainly doesn’t look that way now, because I only see a smidgen of what He sees. My line of sight is narrow and dim, at best. He sees all.

Even through the pain, 45 years with lots of it, I still trust Him with my life. I wouldn’t want to go through heartache without Christ, and I honestly don’t know how people do it. I see why people turn to pills, alcohol, and other vices to “get through” life (not advocating for that, just understanding the “why”), especially the hardest parts of life. It’s tough with Christ, for me, it would be impossible without Him.

And yet..the tears still fall. He’s collecting each one, according to His Word. And, He’s working all of this “junk” out for my good, because I’ve been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Would you continue to pray for me and my family please, as God brings us to your mind? We need all the “gap-standers” we can get. And…you know what…we need a peaceful break from the “hard things” for a little while. May I ask for prayer for that too please? Thank you all!

#HeIsStillGood

Thursday, June 1, 2017

His Last Father’s Day…Little Did We Know

Father's DayLittle did we know as we celebrated Father’s Day with Joel in 2016 with all but three of our kiddos in town, it would be his last. As we approach another first without our precious Joel/Daddy, it goes without saying, this one will probably sting quite a bit.

The first sting came early…about a week ago. Josiah came home from school after his class had been working on Father’s Day gifts. He was proud of what he made and said, “Well, since I don’t have a daddy, I’ll give this to __________.” (I can’t reveal the name, or the surprise will be ruined.) My heart was crushed as he said the words, “since I don’t have a daddy”.

I was so upset in that moment, I could hardly speak. I simply told him it was beautiful and thanked him for doing a good job. I also reminded him, he has a daddy in Heaven who is unable to talk to Josiah right now, but he also has THE Daddy in Heaven who he can talk to anytime he wants, knowing He hears every word. He smiled, and with that, the conversation was over…at least for that moment.

With Josiah’s early gift…I started thinking of all the other “issues” I might run into. For Mother’s Day, Austyn’s school invited all the mother’s to come spend time with their children at various events. They are already planning a similar set of activities for the fathers on the Friday before Father’s Day. I honestly don’t think I can send him to school that day. I know how elated he was when I arrived for my special day with him. I think it would utterly put him into a tailspin to be the only little boy in his class without his daddy there. Oh…grief simply sucks (pardon my crass word). And that’s not all…

Every single summer, the Stirewalt family has their annual reunion in June. Guess when it is this year? Yep…Father’s Day. On-the-one-hand, it will serve as a distraction. Uncle Gary’s pool will be open, and I’m sure everyone will have a blast. However, one of the missing Stirewalt men will be MOST evident on that day…at least to me. My heart is breaking all over again. I will do my best to bring a joy-filled face and attitude, but I will need lots of prayer warriors standing in the gap. Please Lord, let them remember us among their own celebrations.

#HeIsStillGood

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

I Want Off!

I love rollercoasters. There’s just something about the thrill of speed, twists and turns, and the abrupt ending that excites me. I’ve been this way my whole life. I get carsick so easily, but put me on a rollercoaster, and I can ride it over and over with no ill effects. Strange, but true.

The grief “rollercoaster” is another story, however. It makes me sick. Emotionally, mentally, and physically. Sometimes, the twisting and turning of this type of “ride” literally has me on my knees in front of a toilet. I’m not trying to be graphic or disgusting…just real. Last night was one of those nights. My mind goes into overdrive with memories and lost dreams, and it has the power, at times, to make me physically sick. I hate it. I want off this rollercoaster!

I have no idea why I can do so well for a few days and then get saddled with deep, intense pain all over again. It’s just the non-linear aspect of grief. Sometimes I can see it coming…my motivation to do anything drops off, my appetite is virtually non-existent, I spend my days wanting to just sleep…simply put, depression increases. But there are the times I am blindsided by it too. That was last night. I was doing okay and…bam! I felt like I had just been run over.

I can’t stop the increasing painful heartache. It feels like my heart is being shattered all over again. Pictures from the night Joel went Home keep flashing in my brain. I start thinking…could I have done anything differently? What if… That’s when it overwhelms me to the point of physically getting sick.

There is nothing I can do to make the pain go away. I just have to ride it out. This is when my prayers turn into two-word mumblings again, “Help me!” Thankfully, I know the Holy Spirit is interceding for me (Romans 8:26). I know these days won’t last forever, but they feel so incredibly long when they come.

“We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, ‘Blessed are they that mourn,’ and I accept it. I’ve got nothing that I hadn’t bargained for. Of course it is different when the things happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not imagination.” ~C.S. Lewis

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Trying to Avoid the Mother’s Day Blues

He had a way of making every holiday special. While decorating for the major holidays as always been “my thing”, Joel made sure I felt loved and treasured on even the minor holidays.

Mother’s Day.

It hurts to type those two words. It brings with it pain on many levels…some of those reasons I choose not to even speak of here, as it doesn’t edify anyone. However, since 2011, Mother’s Day has been an even harder holiday for me to muster. I buried Chris on Mother’s Day. I can only imagine the pain his own mother feels on this day each year.

This year…the loss of Joel and his precious ways of making me feel like a princess will be most notably missed. Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I don’t need to feel like a princess. I don’t need to be doted over. I don’t need a holiday dedicated to the fact I’m a mother. But…Joel sure knew how to make me feel like royalty, and he had begun teaching the children to do the same thing. It was truly an everyday teaching in our home. He taught them to love and respect me, and while he didn’t have long with our littlest ones, I know the groundwork had begun. Mother’s Day, however, was just the day set aside to allow me to rest and feel loved on even more.

I can tell my children Sunday is Mother’s Day. And…we’ll call Grandma to be sure. But…that’s where it ends. I don’t know if they’ll get it. I don’t know if they’ll be nice or give me a hard time all day long. I don’t know if rest will be in the equation, or if I’ll be exhausted from having to referee arguments. To them…it’s just another day without their daddy here to emphasize it. I don’t blame them. I don’t blame God. It is what it is.

If there are single moms, especially with young children, that cross your path this weekend…remember this might be a difficult holiday for them. Show them some extended grace, an extra smile, and offer up a prayer on their behalf. Any of those acts might make all the difference between a difficult Mother’s Day and a great Mother’s Day.

#HeIsStillGood